Mark E. Petersen

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Mark E. Petersen
Mark E. Petersen.JPG
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 20, 1944 (1944-04-20) – January 11, 1984 (1984-01-11)
LDS Church Apostle
April 20, 1944 (1944-04-20) – January 11, 1984 (1984-01-11)
Reason Excommunication of Richard R. Lyman
at end of term
Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks were ordained after the deaths of Petersen and LeGrand Richards
Personal details
Born Mark Edward Petersen
(1900-11-07)November 7, 1900
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died January 11, 1984(1984-01-11) (aged 83)
Murray, Utah, United States
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000
Spouse(s) Emma Marr McDonald
Children 2 daughters[1]

Mark Edward Petersen (November 7, 1900 – January 11, 1984) was an American news editor and religious leader who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1944 until his death. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he filled the vacancy in the Quorum caused by the excommunication of Richard R. Lyman. Petersen had become managing editor of the church-owned Deseret News in 1935 and editor in 1941.

Early life[edit]

As a young boy, Petersen was a newspaper carrier, and he also helped in his father’s construction business. Later, he attended the University of Utah and served a mission for the LDS Church in Nova Scotia. In pursuing a career, he became a reporter for the Deseret News and continued working for the paper for sixty years, advancing to the position of president and chairman of the board. Petersen wrote numerous editorials and published more than forty books and many pamphlets used in the church's missionary effort.


In April 1944, while serving as general manager of the Deseret News, Petersen was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In his calling as an apostle, he directed the church’s public information programs and served on the Military Relations Committee. He was an adviser to the church's Relief Society, Indian Affairs Committee, and Music Committee. He served as president of the West European Mission[2] for more than six years. Petersen was also involved in many community affairs. He was closely associated with the Boy Scouts of America and was a recipient of the Silver Antelope Award. In 1959, in response to a rash of arrests of gay men in Utah and Idaho, church president David O. McKay assigned apostles Spencer W. Kimball and Petersen to work on curing gays within the church.[3][4]

Controversial teachings[edit]

At Brigham Young University on 27 August 1954, at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Petersen delivered the speech, "Race Problems—As They Affect the Church".[5][6] The speech outlined the religious underpinnings of racial segregation and supported its continued practice as it related to intermarriage between blacks and whites. Particularly, he reaffirmed the LDS Church's stance at that time that those with dark skin had been less valiant in their lives before coming to earth.[7][8] He also reiterated the idea that blacks were to be servants to righteous white people after the resurrection, as was the case with Jane Manning James who was sealed to Joseph Smith to be his servant in the next life.[9] Petersen said:

"In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a celestial resurrection. He will get a place in the celestial glory."

In the 1940s, Petersen coined the term "Mormon fundamentalist" to describe people who had left the LDS Church to practice plural marriage.[10]


Petersen died from longstanding complications of cancer after entering Cottonwood Hospital in Murray, Utah, and undergoing surgery.[2] He was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.


General conference talks[edit]

As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Petersen spoke at each of the church's general conferences. Those addresses from 1971 until his death are shown below.

Date Title Topics
April 1971 Warnings from the Past Morality; Prophecy
October 1971 Honesty, a Principle of Salvation Honesty
April 1972 A People of Sound Judgment Prophets; Restoration
October 1972 Another Prophet Now Has Come! Prophets; Restoration; Spirituality
April 1973 Salvation Comes through the Church Plan of Salvation; Apostasy
October 1973 “What Will a Man Give?” Obedience; Commandments; Agency
April 1974 The People Say “Amen” Church Leaders; Prophets
October 1974 Eternal Togetherness Marriage; Plan of Salvation
April 1975 The Sabbath Day Obedience; Sabbath
October 1975 “Hear Ye Him!” Church Growth; Restoration
April 1976 The Message of Elijah Family History; Temple Work
October 1976 The Savor of Men Government; Obedience; Heroes
April 1977 Do Unto Others… Brotherhood; Kindness
October 1977 It Was a Miracle! Book of Mormon
April 1978 “Evidence of Things Not Seen” Prophets; Book of Mormon; Restoration
October 1978 The Last Words of Moroni Book of Mormon
April 1979 Signs of the True Church Apostasy; Restoration
October 1979 O America, America Obedience; Repentance; Honesty
April 1980 Where Do We Stand? Obedience; Spirituality
October 1980 Adam, the Archangel Adam and Eve
April 1981 Blessings in Self-Reliance Obedience; Morality
October 1981 Follow the Prophets Prophets
April 1982 “Even As I Am” Jesus Christ; Women
April 1982 “We Believe in Being Honest” Obedience; Honesty
October 1982 Believers and Doers Plan of Salvation
April 1983 Creator and Savior Jesus Christ; Resurrection; Atonement
October 1983 The Angel Moroni Came! Angels


  1. ^ Monson, Thomas S. (March 1984). "In Memoriam:By His Words—Elder Mark E. Petersen - new-era". New Era. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "This week in Church History". Church News. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News. 3 January 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2018. 
  3. ^ O'Donovan, Rocky (1994). Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. p. 147. ISBN 1-56085-050-7. Retrieved 27 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Kimball, Edward L.; Kimball, Andrew E. (1977). Spencer W. Kimball: Twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft. p. 381. 
  5. ^ Petersen, Elder Mark E. (27 August 1954). "Race Problems— As They Affect The Church". Retrieved 7 May 2018. 
  6. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (2004). "Appendix B: Race Problems—As They Affect The Church". Curse of Cain?: Racism in the Mormon Church. Utah Lighthouse Ministry. 
  7. ^ McNamara, Mary Lou (24 January 2001). Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives (Reprint ed.). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. p. 318. ISBN 0252069595. Retrieved 7 May 2018. 
  8. ^ Bush, Lester E., Jr.; Mauss, Armand L., eds. (1984). "Appendix: Authoritative Statements on the Status of Blacks". Neither White nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church. Midvale, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-22-2. 
  9. ^ Embry, Jessie L. (1994). "Chapter 3: Impact of the LDS "Negro Policy"". Black Saints in a White Church: Contemporary African American Mormons. Signature Books. pp. 40–41. ISBN 1560850442. Sourced from the George A. Smith family papers, 1731-1969' (box 78, folder 7) on the 'Quorum of the Twelve Apostles— Excerpts from the weekly council meetings dealing with the rights of African Americans in the church (1849-1940') 
  10. ^ Driggs, Ken (2001). "'This Will Someday Be the Head and Not the Tail of the Church': A History of the Mormon Fundamentalists at Short Creek". Journal of Church and State. 43 (1): 49–80. JSTOR 23920013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Ezra Taft Benson
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 20, 1944 – January 11, 1984
Succeeded by
Matthew Cowley